Transportation in Vietnam is improving rapidly in terms of both quantity and quality. Especially road traffic is growing rapidly but the major roads are dangerous and slow to travel on due to outdated design and an inappropriate traffic mix. In recent years, the construction of expressways has accelerated. Air travel is also important for long distance travel. Metro systems are under construction in the two metropolises of Vietnam, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The total length of the Vietnamese road system is about 222,179 km with 19.0% paved, mainly national roads and provincial roads (source: Vietnam Road Administration, 2004). The national road system length is 17,295 km with 27.6% of its length paved. The provincial road system is 27,762 km of length with 23.6% paved. The road network is relatively well developed, but in poor condition. Due to congestion and lack of safety, the average speed on the national roads is a mere 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph).
Road financing comes from a number of sources including the government, overseas donors such as the ADB, WB, JBIC and business organizations. Road investment recovery is mainly through tolls collected on bridges and roads, in accordance with laws mentioned above.
Vietnam's road system is classified according to the administrative hierarchy. Each classification is assigned a milestone color and abbreviation.
Main article: Expressways of Vietnam
Expressways are a rather new concept for Vietnam. Traffic is growing rapidly but the major roads are dangerous due to inappropriate design and an inappropriate traffic mix. Expressways would solve these problems along the key corridors, by separating high speed traffic from slower, local traffic.
Vietnam currently recognizes two classes of expressway. Both have a minimum of two lanes in each direction, but Class A has grade separated interchanges, while Class B has at-grade intersections. There are 4 design-speed categories: 60, 80, 100 and 120 km/h. Generally all cars, buses and trucks are permitted on the expressway but công nông (agricultural vehicles) and all types motorcycles are not.
Vietnam is renowned for its motorbike culture. In 1995, over 90% of trips in both Hanoi and Saigon were done by motorcycle. In 2017, 79% of Vietnamese reported using a motorbike regularly. With 45 million registered motorbikes on a 92 million population headcount, Vietnam has one of the highest motorbike ownership rates worldwide. Vietnam is the 4th largest market for motorbike sales, after China, India and Indonesia. 87% of Vietnamese households own a motorbike, a number only surpassed by Thailand.
In recent years, the government has expressed the desire to reduce the number of motorbikes in an effort to curb congestion.
As of 2015, 2 million passenger cars were registered.
Car prices are kept high by import taxes and sales tax, which put Vietnam as one of the most expensive countries to buy a car, with up to 2 or 3 times the final price consisting of taxes and fees. In 2016, a Lexus LX was priced at 7.3 billion VND (USD 315,000), a Toyota Innova at 800 million VND (USD 35,000), Despite this, car sales are growing at double digit rates each year.
Most river crossings have long been replaced by bridges, however ferry crossings still operate for vehicles not allowed on expressways.
Vietnam has 17,702 km of waterways; 5,000 km of which are navigable by vessels up to 1.8 m draft.
Air travel is rapidly increasing in importance. The route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has been world's 7th busiest airline route by seat capacity since 2016.
Main article: List of airports in Vietnam
Vietnam operates 37 civil airports, including three international gateways: Noi Bai serving Hanoi, Da Nang serving Da Nang City, and Tan Son Nhat serving Ho Chi Minh City. Tan Son Nhat is the largest, handling 75 percent of international passenger traffic. Vietnam Airlines, the national airline, has a fleet of 82 aircraft that link Vietnam with 49 foreign cities. The second largest domestic carrier is VietJet Air, serving 16 domestic destinations and 5 international destinations, and third largest is Bamboo Airways.
Airports with civil service
Main article: Rail transport in Vietnam
The Vietnamese railway network has a total length of 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi), dominated by the 1,726 kilometres (1,072 mi) single track North–South Railway running between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The national railway network uses mainly 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) metre gauge, although there are several 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge and mixed gauge lines in the North of the country. There were 278 stations on the Vietnamese railway network as of 2005, most of which are located along the North–South line. The Vietnamese railway network is owned and operated by the state-owned enterprise Vietnam Railways (VNR), which operates a number of different subsidiaries involved in construction, communications, training, and other activities connected to railway maintenance.
The overall condition of railway infrastructure in Vietnam varies from poor to fair; most of the network remains in need of rehabilitation and upgrading, having received only temporary repair from damages suffered during decades of war. A joint Japanese-Vietnamese evaluation team found that the poor state of railway infrastructure was the fundamental cause for most railway accidents, of which the most common types are train crashes against vehicles and persons, especially at illegal level crossings; derailments caused by failure to decrease speed was also noted as a common cause of accidents.
Two railways connect Vietnam to the People's Republic of China: the western Yunnan–Vietnam Railway, from Haiphong to Kunming, and the eastern railway from Hanoi to Nanning. The railway into Yunnan is a metre gauge line, the only such line to operate inside China; it may, however, be converted to standard gauge. Railway service along the Chinese portion of the route is currently suspended. Cross-border service was available until 2002, when floods and landslides, which frequently caused delays along the route, caused serious damage to the tracks on the Chinese side. Hanoi–Đồng Đăng Railway access to Nanning is done through the border at Đồng Đăng, in Lạng Sơn Province. Regular service generally entails stopping at the border, changing from a Vietnamese metre-gauge train to a Chinese standard-gauge train, and continuing on to Nanning.
The Yunnan–Vietnam Railway will form the Chinese part of the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link, which is expected to be completed in 2015.
There are currently no railway connections between Vietnam and Cambodia or Laos. As part of plans established by ASEAN, however, two new railways are under development: Saigon–Lộc Ninh Railway connecting Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and one connecting the North–South Railway to Thakhek in Laos. The Vietnamese portion of the Phnom Penh railway would begin with a junction of the North–South Railway at Dĩ An Railway Station, and would end in Lộc Ninh, Bình Phước Province, close to the Cambodian border, linking up with a similar project on the Cambodian side. According to the plan established by ASEAN, this stretch is scheduled for completion by 2020; it will form part of the Kunming–Singapore railway project, overseen by the ASEAN–Mekong Basin Development Cooperation (AMBDC). Vientiane - Vũng Áng Railway would run between Vung Ang, a port in Hà Tĩnh Province, to connect with the North–South Railway at Tân Ấp Railway Station in Quảng Bình Province, then crossing through the Mụ Giạ Pass towards Thakhek. According to plans established by ASEAN, the line may then be extended via Thakhek all the way to the Laotian capital Vientiane. Both Laos and Thailand have expressed interest in the project as a shorter export gateway to the Pacific Ocean.
Main article: North–South Express Railway (Vietnam)
National railway company Vietnam Railways has proposed a high-speed rail link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, capable of running at speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph). Once completed, the high-speed rail line—using Japanese Shinkansen technology—would allow trains to complete the Hanoi–Ho Chi Minh City journey in less than six hours, compared to around 30 hours taken on the existing railway. Vietnamese prime minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng had originally set an ambitious target, approving a 1,630 km (1,010 mi) line to be completed by 2013, with 70 percent of funding (initially estimated at US$33 billion) coming from Japanese ODA, and the remaining 30 percent raised through loans. Later reports raised estimated costs to US$56 billion (almost 60 percent of Vietnam's GDP in 2009) for a completion date in the mid-2030s. On June 19, 2010, after a month of deliberation, Vietnam's National Assembly rejected the high speed rail proposal due to its high cost; National Assembly deputies had asked for further study of the project.
In 2018 a new feasibility study was submitted and based on that the government wants to reconsider the cost-benefit of the project. Plans show the first phase of construction to build sections between Hanoi and Vinh, and simultaneously between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang both to be finished by 2032 with the entire north-south link to be finished by 2045.
Main article: Ho Chi Minh City–Cần Thơ Express Railway
Another high-speed rail has been proposed to connect Ho Chi Minh City to Southeast Vietnam and Can Tho.
The two biggest cities in Vietnam, Hanoi and Saigon, with Ho Chi Minh City Metro (Saigon) currently under construction, both projects have suffered from delays, budget deficits and budget overruns. The Hanoi metro system began operations on November 6, 2021, and the Ho Chi Minh City Metro is expected to be opened in 2024.
In April 1995, a 125-kilometer natural gas pipeline connecting Bach Ho with a power plant near Vũng Tàu went into operation. With the subsequent addition of compressors, the volume pumped rose to more than 1 billion cubic meters per year. In 2005 a 399-kilometer underwater pipeline, the world's longest, began to carry natural gas onshore from the Nam Con Son basin. The pipeline's anticipated capacity is 2 billion cubic meters per year, while the basin has an estimated 59 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves. Vietnam has 28 km of condensate pipeline, 10 km of condensate/gas pipeline, 216 of natural gas line, and 206 km of pipeline for refined products.